Pictionary Rules and Gameplay Instructions

Pictionary is one of the most well-known board games of this century. If you have a creative side, enjoy guessing games, and think it is fun to play on a team, Pictionary will make a great addition to your collection of games. 

Creator, Rob Angel, sold game production to Matel in 2001. 

By this time, over 38,000,000 Pictionary games were already sold. 

This Pictionary rules guide will cover the following:

  • What is Pictionary?
  • A brief history of Pictionary
  • What you’ll need to play Pictionary
  • Pictionary Rules
  • How to play Pictionary (Video Tutorial)
  • FAQs

Read on to learn how to play Pictionary. 

What is Pictionary

Pictionary Board Game Info image

Pictionary is a board game created in the 1980s and has become one of the most popular board games of all time. Pictionary requires a player to draw a picture, and their teammates guess what is drawn before time runs out.

Depending upon the edition you purchase, you may use paper and pencil for sketching or dry erase boards and markers. 

Number of Players: 2 or 4 teams (depending upon game edition)

Ages: 8+

Difficulty: Easy

Length of Play: 30 minutes

Category: Family game, Party game

Similar to: Telestrations, Scattergories, Outburst

Main Objective:  Guess the final sketch correctly upon reaching the last space on the board. 

Why We Love It: Who doesn’t love to challenge their inner artist? Pictionary is a fast-moving, entertaining game that can be enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels. 

A Brief History of Pictionary

Created in the 1980s by a college student, Rob Angel, Pictionary became one of the most popular board games still on the market today. He assembled the first 1,000 games by hand from his small apartment. 

Mattel took over production and sales of the game in 2001, and by then, Pictionary had already made its mark in over 60 countries. 

Today, you can find a variety of Pictionary games, including Pictionary Junior, sold by Hasbro Games. Mattel published a Kid’s Vs. Grownups version of Pictionary allows players to draw in the air, and the image is displayed on a screen, as well as a Pictionary Card Game

What You’ll Need to Play Pictionary

Everything you need to play is included in this boxed set.

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The complete game box contains: 

  • 1 sand timer
  • 1 die
  • Dry-erase boards
  • Dry erase markers
  • 1 game board
  • Category cards
  • 4 playing tokens

Area of Play

Begin set up by placing the game board on the table beside the category cards, die, and a sand timer. 

Divide players into two teams, and depending on which game edition you have, give everyone a notepad and pencil or a dry erase board and marker. 

Place a starting token on the starting space indicated on the game board for each team or player. 

Teammates take turns being the artist, so decide which player from each team will draw first. Players must take turns. The same artist cannot keep drawing on every turn. 

Pictionary Rules

To start, draw a card from the Category Cards deck.

The category cards have specific words listed by color to match spaces on the game board. The words are either objects, actions, a person, place, or animal, difficult or all play. 

However, there is also an All Play word listed on each card for all teams to use when starting the first round. 

Both teams look at the All Play word on the card, flip the sand timer, and the artist for each team draws a picture representing the word.

Teammates begin to guess what the picture is, and they can guess as many times as they want within the one-minute time limit.

The first team to guess correctly rolls the die and moves the corresponding number of spaces on the game board. The space’s color shown on the board indicates which word your team will draw on the category card. 

Gameplay continues in a clockwise rotation. When teams guess the picture correctly, they roll the die, move their token on the game board, and draw again. 

If time runs out and the team has not guessed correctly, the game moves on to the next team. 

RELATED: Games like Pictionary

All Play

Some of the words on the Category Cards have an “All Play” icon beside them. If a team selects an All Play word from the Category Card, the artist from each group will draw simultaneously.

When all teams draw simultaneously, the first team to guess the word correctly will roll the die, move, and draw next. 

Play proceeds clockwise from the active team if no one guesses correctly. 

Card Examples

Some examples of the words listed on the Category Card include: 

  • Goldfish
  • Sit
  • Virtue
  • Office
  • Housetop
  • Cook
  • India

Forbidden Actions

The following actions are not allowed by the player who is drawing at any time during the game: 

  • Sign language
  • Dashes to represent the number of letters in a word
  • Letters
  • Numbers
  • An “ear” to show what the word sounds like
  • Speaking or talking to teammates

The team who makes their way around the game board first, and guesses the last sketch correctly, wins!

You do not have to roll an exact number to land on the final square.

How to Keep Score in Pictionary

Pictionary has no formal scoring method; however, the teams that guess the most drawings correctly will move around the game board more quickly than their opponents. 

Also, players may choose to discuss how specific answers need to be vocalized before the game begins. You can make the game as fun and light or challenging as you and your teammates would like. 

Remember, the first team to land on the last square AND correctly guess the drawing wins the game!

How to Play Pictionary – Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are some good Pictionary words? 

When considering words to use for a game of Pictionary, I would recommend making a list of nouns. These words can be body parts, animals, foods, or anything easy to draw. 

It would be more challenging to draw feelings, expressions, or ideas. 

How do you play Pictionary at home? 

You can make your own Pictionary game if you do not have the boxed set. However, you will have to get creative and come up with your Category cards and word lists. You and your friends can still take turns drawing images and trying to guess correctly. 

Other Games Similar to Pictionary (Our Guides)

Looking for other games to play? Check out these fun options for your next game night:

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Read all the articles (69) written by Andrea Huguley